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Iowa joins the NIL parade for high school athletes
High-profile athletes, and those with a substantial social-media presence are most likely to earn monetary compensation for their name, image and likeness
In Iowa. At the high school level.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union confirmed Wednesday that high school students may now earn monetary compensation from the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL).
Iowa becomes the 15th state to approve high school NIL, which was instituted at the collegiate level nationwide last year.
According to the IHSAA statement:
“A student may earn compensation from the use of their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) consistent with current IHSAA regulations and provided:
- The compensation is not contingent on specific athletic performance or achievement (e.g., financial incentives based on points scored).
- The compensation (or prospective compensation) is not provided as an inducement to attend a particular school (“undue influence”) or to remain enrolled at a particular school.
- The compensation is not provided by the school or an agent of the school (e.g., booster club, foundation, etc.).
Or, in the words of Scott Grant, assistant professor of leadership at The University of Findlay, and owner/operator of Triple Threat Leadership: “At the high school level, there’s not much a school can do except to educate.
“The positive to NIL is that it does afford opportunities to student-athletes. The negative is that most people aren’t educated enough to understand it. You have people that are under 18 that will be signing contracts.”
The guidelines, IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said, “aren’t meant to be heavy-handed or punitive in nature. We needed to give students some guidance, some things to think about, as we go forward.
Wednesday’s news was a surprise to two Metro athletics directors.
“It was going to come, yes, but I have some concerns about it,” Cedar Rapids Kennedy AD Aaron Stecker said. “Let’s say several Cedar Rapids companies get together and say, ‘Hey, we want to influence some of the top athletes in the community to go to a certain school.’”
Linn-Mar AD Tonya Moe said, “I thought this was still a couple of years away from filtering down to the high school level. It’s something that’s going to hurt high school sports, in my opinion. It’s something we’ll have to manage.”
At Linn-Mar, students and parents can buy “fan shirts,” with an athlete’s name and number.
Could an athlete make money off of these? The answer is no, assuming the school’s name and/or logo are involved.
Other restrictions, according to Wednesday’s statement:
- The student should not wear apparel or equipment which includes the IHSAA/IGHSAU logo or member school marks or logos for the purpose of any NIL activity.
- Student should not reference the IHSAA/IGHSAU or member school name or mascot for the purpose of any NIL activity.
- The student should not use a member school’s facilities for the purpose of NIL activity.
- The student should not promote activities nor products associated with the following: gaming/gambling; alcoholic beverages, tobacco, cannabis, or related products; banned or illegal substances; adult entertainment products or services; or weapons (e.g., firearms).
- The student and his/her family should seek guidance from his/her member school.
- The student and his/her family should seek their own legal counsel and tax advice when considering any NIL activity.
- The student and his/her family should contact the NCAA, NJCAA, and/or NAIA to ensure any NIL activity does not jeopardize collegiate eligibility.
Stecker noted two types of athletes that will draw NIL interest.
“It’s going to be the high-profile athletes, and just as importantly, it’s going to be athletes with a big social-media following. How many Instagram and TikTok followers do they have?”
Keating was asked, simply, how big of an impact NIL will have at the high school level.
“Who knows?” he said. “We’re here as a resource for any topic, and that now includes NIL. I strongly encourage families to seek legal counsel in these circumstances.”